American Village American Village in Montevallo, Shelby County, is a living history educational complex established to teach young people, and others, about the foundations of American government through the events and notable figures of the American Revolution era. Situated on nearly 200 acres of land, the American Village has a number of replica buildings important to the foundation of the United States as well as a classroom, theater, and museum that provide additional educational experiences for tourists, students, and educators. A board of trustees governs the organization. The Village is staffed with educational and historical interpreters and volunteers.
The facility was founded in 1995 by educator and preservationist Tom Walker. Walker also has served in various local government and city planning positions and is on the University of Montevallo board of trustees. Walker envisioned a space where youths could engage in conversations about the concept of liberty. He created the American Village Citizenship Trust in the early 1990s and began working with citizens and city and state officials to find a location to establish an educational history park focused on that subject. In 1994, with the support of the Trust’s Board of Trustees, Walker collaborated with Mike Hamrick, an architect from Eufaula, Barbour County, to design the site. The Citizenship Trust was officially chartered in 1995 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational institution. After several years of fund-raising, the American Village opened on November 30, 1999. (In 2017, Walker was named to the United States Sesquicentennial Committee because of his work with American Village.)
Musket Loading The layout of the American Village is divided into three thematic spaces: Independence Circle, Constitution Green, and the Grand Avenue. The Grand Avenue’s upward path toward Independence Circle and the Constitution Green is meant to symbolize the continuous progress of the American experience with liberty and democracy. Independence Circle represents the liberty and unity of the 13 colonies. Constitution Green is surrounded by buildings that represent the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the U.S government. An expansion project plans to add replicas of Independence Hall and a Congressional Hall that will contain classrooms where interpreters will engage visitors with discussions of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Washington Hall replicates a smaller version of George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon. The building hosts educational programs on topics ranging from eighteenth-century culture to policies of the early Republic. There is also a bronze statue of George Washington that features decorative elements symbolizing the Founding Fathers’ views on the presidency and a full-scale replica of the White House’s Oval Office. Other activities offered for students include marching with the Continental Army, protesting the Stamp Act, and learning about the domestic life of ordinary citizens in colonial America. Guests may also encounter a British sentinel on look-out for so-called “rebel scum.” The Randall Museum, which is one of the first stops on the tour, offers small dioramas depicting significant events in American History.
Virginia House of Burgesses Through these recreations, the American Village aims to teach youth the lessons of liberty by emphasizing the importance of American history, understanding the ideas of liberty, and serving the country as good citizens and leaders. It also hopes to honor American service men and women. In 2014, American Village dedicated its National Veterans Shrine, which contains marble sculptures and artwork commemorating United States veterans, oral testimonies of veterans, and photographs of men and women currently serving in the military. Additionally, it aims to promote respect for the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, sometimes referred to as America’s Charters of Freedom. Finally, it strives to encourage understanding of the concepts underlying the United States motto E pluribus unum, or, “Out of many, one.” To achieve these goals, the American Village offers a variety of educational programs that use interpretive teaching and historical re-enactors to educate visitors. For example, students may participate, as members of the Virginia House of Burgesses, in a vote for Virginia to join other colonies in seceding from Great Britain.
American Village is located at 3727 Highway 119 in Montevallo. It is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. in June and July. School groups can schedule tours through the American Village website. The American Village offers a variety of online teaching aids and resources for visitors to use in preparation for their visit. There are seasonal events, such as programs centered on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Black History Month. The annual Festival of Tulips is also a popular time to visit. The facility is available to rent for private events such as weddings, formals, office getaways, and corporate events. Nearby are the University of Montevallo and the Alabama National Cemetery, one of four National Cemeteries in the state.